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5 Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Season

Why not dream of a green Christmas this year instead of a white one? Here are five tips on how to make the most popular season of the year the most sustainable one as well.

Recycled Holiday Cards

No, we don’t mean whiting out the greetings on the cards you received last year and sending them out again this year, although that would be an undeniably sustainable approach. You can be just as conscientiously green and still buy new cards if you take a little extra time to find cards that are made from 100% PCW paper stock and printed with soy-based ink. A quick glance at the back of the card or the packaging on a box of cards will clue you in.

Or send out holiday greetings via email or even through social networking sites like Facebook. After all, it’s the thought that counts!

Christmas Trees and Decorations

Artificial Christmas trees, wreaths and other decorations may seem like they are environmentally-friendly, seeing as they can be re-used year after year and if you have some of these already, that is fine. But please, do not go out and buy any more. Almost all of them are manufactured from petroleum-based chemicals, and some of them even contain lead.

Live Christmas trees and wreaths are certainly organic, but think of where most of them end up the first week of January: in the trash or, hopefully, at a recycling center. Still, it seems a terrible waste to cut down a living tree to be used for four or five weeks and then discarded. Why not bring a smaller potted tree indoors, decorate it, and then, once the season ends, take it outside and plant it?

Holiday Lights

Newer LED holiday lights use just 10 percent of the energy of older incandescent bulbs, and because they run cooler they’re a bit safer.  Also, you can help the cause by actually shortening the holiday season. Lights and decorations are being put up earlier and earlier by the big retail giants and even municipal public spaces. Keeping holiday lights on for ten hours a day for five or six weeks consumes a staggering amount of electricity. Buck that trend and put up your lights and decorations in mid-December or even on Christmas eve.

Presents

Try to buy more environmentally friendly this year. Try to choose something local. Neighborhood craft fairs are a good source to find unique gifts that don’t come with the environmentally taxing burden of being shipped halfway across the world from China. Also, gifts made from recycled source materials are obviously a smart choice. Or the most personal gift of all — give things that you’ve made yourself!

Gift Wrapping

Experts agree that the amount of disposable gift wrapping that is used each December constitutes one the biggest wastes of the holiday season. Avoid wrapping gifts in materials that aren’t recyclable or reusable, such as foil or plastic-coated paper and tissue. It’s much better to make your own from paper bags, newsprint, old maps or other paper you have on hand. You can paint, draw, stamp or print any design you like on the paper—the only limit is your imagination!



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